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March 30, 2011

The call to recycle

Heeding the reuse-your-refuse call in the modern city

Pepper Rodriguez

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Jane Canlobo has lived in her apartment-style condo in the northeast with her twin boys for the past five years, and she has grown comfortable in this kind of multi-family lifestyle. But when it comes to recycling, she isn't all that into it.

At 857 square-feet, space in her two-bedroom condo is at a premium. "I do what I can to recycle, to bring our paper wastes to the neighbourhood recycling depot, but it does tend to pile up and being a single mom raising twin boys, I really don't have all the time to drive over to the recycle bins. So, a lot of the time, I just end up having to throw everything in the condo's garbage bins," she tells Condo Living.

Jane and others like her, living in Calgary's multi-family developments, may be the crucial factor that will swing the trend in favour of Calgary's goal of diverting 80 per cent of waste from landfills by 2020.

Right now, the opposite is true, with only 20 per cent of waste going towards recycle bins and 80 per cent still ending up in landfills. According to the City's Waste and Recycling department, the average household disposed of 632 kilograms of waste in 2009, about equal to the weight of a moose.

Getting the 158,000 multi-family dwellings in the city to take a more active part in the program is seen as crucial for its success. A February report from the Waste and Recycling Services recommends having a multi-family component in the program by 2015 ó some five years sooner than what is currently planned.

A program to collect organic waste — which makes up a hefty 57 per cent of what Calgarians throw in the landfills (22 per cent yard waste and 35 per cent food scraps) — is also in the works for the same time. 

Cost and viability of a multi-family recycling program has been cited as the cause for the reluctance in pursuing a similar blue bin program for condos and townhomes. But one Calgary company thinks they may have the key in providing this critical service.

"Making it easier for the condo owner to recycle is what we need to do to make such a program successful," says Scott Rand, director and co-owner of BluPlanet Recycling. "We're proud to be Calgary's most environmentally-responsible condominium recycling company."

By providing their custom-made, lined cardboard bins, which don't take up all that much space, and doing more frequent pick-ups, BluPlanet thinks they have the answer. "If the bins are overflowing, we don't wait 'til the next week to pick up, we take it out as soon as possible.

BluPlanet delivers up to 10 tonnes a week of recyclable material — including paper, plastic, metal and glass — to the city recycling plant from 25 different buildings. That accounts for about 5,000 units, the occupants of which pay a little more than $4 a month each for the service. Those fees are usually budgeted into condo fees.

Co-owner Nate Weiland said the number of buildings using the service is growing every month. "Since we've started operation in May 2009, we have seen rapid growth, we know there's a demand for this service."

They both believe that BluPlanet's proven track record of professional service and that their detailed and systematic approach to collecting recyclables will work, even when the time comes that the City eventually mandates its own multi-family recycling program.

"We have established a good working relation with the City and we think can provide an essential service," Weiland notes.

 

Household hazardous waste and where to get rid of them safely

Now that you've finished painting, what do you do with the leftovers? Same thing with used motor oil, nail polish, bleach and disinfectants. Not in the recyclable bin that's for sure, not even with your ordinary garbage, as these products present a danger to the environment and have to be disposed of properly. Here's a list of hazardous household waste and where to bring them, courtesy of the City of Calgary's Waste and Recycling Service.

 

Products for your vehicles:

Antifreeze

Automotive batteries

Brake and transmission fluid

Gasoline

Rust inhibitors/removers

Solvents

Used motor oil

 

Cleaning products:

Bleach and ammonia

Cleaning solvents and spot removers

Disinfectants

Drain, toilet and window cleaners

Hot tub and swimming pool chemicals

Oven cleaners

Septic tank cleaners

 

Gardening products:

Ant and rodent killer

Fertilizers

Weed killer

 

Paint and building products:

Alkyd, latex and oil-based paints

Asphalt and roof tar

Lacquers, stains and varnishes

Paint thinners, strippers and solvents

Wood preservatives

Hobby and healthcare products

Artist paint and inks

Glues and cements

Mercury thermometers

Nail polish and remover

Photographic chemicals

Propane tanks

Waterproofers

 

Where to bring them:

With eight good places in Calgary, it's easy to drop off your household hazardous waste

 

Select fire stations: 

Open 7 days a week: 8 a.m. - 6 p.m.

1 #04 Fire Station (1991 18th Ave. N.E.)

2 #17 Fire Station (3740 32nd Ave. N.W.)

3 #20 Fire Station (2800 Peacekeepers Way S.W.)

4 #24 Fire Station (2607 106th Ave. S.W.)

5 #26 Fire Station (450 Midpark Way S.E.)

 

Landfills:

Summer hours: April 1 to October 31

Open 7 days a week: 7:30 a.m. - 5 p.m.

Winter hours: November 1 to March 31

Monday - Saturday: 7:30 a.m. - 5 p.m.

6 East Calgary Landfill (68th St. & 17th Ave. S.E.)

7 Shepard Landfill (68th St. & 114th Ave. S.E.)

8 Spyhill Landfill (69th St. & 112th Ave. N.W.)

 

*There is no extra charge for dropping off household hazardous waste at the landfill locations unless you are bringing other materials for disposal at the same time.

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